Figures released by analyst Context suggest resellers across Europe are feeling better about their business prospects for the first quarter of the year than they did at the beginning of January.
Storage, laptops and desktop PCs were rated as hot areas, but services were also a source of optimism among VARs. Networking services in particular were seen as a good growth area.
Resellers said in February that their projected sales growth for Q1 compared with the same period in 2003 was 12.1 per cent, up from predictions of 11.9 per cent growth made in January.
"Numbers are up across the board," said Jeremy Davies, a senior partner at Context.
Germany has not been doing as well recently, but they're up. Resellers there and in France are being particularly bullish about storage."
Attention had moved from server sales to storage, as more competition at the low end and mid-market increased and pre-configuration reduced the chance for resellers to add value. Laptop computers were also a growth area.
Surprisingly, desktop PC sales also saw encouraging growth. Davies attributed this to a slow refresh cycle for hardware bought during the year 2000 panic.
Les Billing, managing director of distributor Microtronica, said: "Although notebook chassis manufacturers have had a couple of bad months, the market is starting to have the same feelings about white-box notebooks as it has about desktop PCs.
"There has also been a general increase in optimism in the channel. The volume of CPU sales has stepped up.
"We have set targets of 25 per cent growth in notebook sales, a five per cent increase in desktops and 20 per cent increase in server sales, and I'm standing by those targets."
Davies said there was also a move away from selling hardware towards value-added services.
"The move from server sales towards storage, which offers more chance for consultancy and configuration, shows resellers should be selling services rather than pushing tin," he said.
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